A general strike is under way in Tunisia as Tunisia’s largest labor union called Thursday for a nationwide general strike on Friday to coincide with the funeral of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis.
Shortly after the assassination, the army and the riot police deployed vehicles and troops along Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the epicenter of January 2011 revolution that toppled Former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked a wave of uprisings across some Arab countries, starting the so-called Arab Spring popular revolutions.
The funeral was attended by thousands of Tunisians, many senior opposition leaders, family members and colleagues. The Defense Minister attended the procession representing country's President Moncef Marzouki.
After the funeral, mass protests erupted in various parts of the country, with protesters starting to clash with police near the Interior Ministry as groups of stone-throwing young men tried to steal some of the mourners’ cars and set two of them on fire. Police used teargas to push the gangs back, scattering both attackers and mourners.
Meanwhile, Tunisian activists wrote on the Facebook pages that many angry demonstrators in front of the Interior Ministry, are expressing their solidarity with Belaid and chanting, “We are all Chokri,” “O Chokri, O martyr, we will follow your path,” and “Terrorism, bullets, Tunisians are fearless."They are also crying anti-Ennahdha slogans, such as “al-Ghannushi (Ennahdha Party founder), you are a predator," “This will be the last day for this government,” and “Bring down the oppressor of the people, bring down the Brotherhood party.”
However, many Tunisians as well as the opposition parties blame Ennahda, of involvement in the killing. The party’s leader Rashid al-Ghannushi condemned the act and rejected the allegations.
On Thursday, in a televised address to the nation, Tunisian prime minister and leader of the Ennahda, party, Hamadi Jebali, tried to dissolve parliament in order to halt the impending crisis.
Jebali also said that he will form of a new government of non-partisan figures and technocrats. However, he faced a mutiny from his own party and the group announced that they would not follow through on the decision.
In a new development, security sources said that the driver of Chokri Belaid's car was arrested today, because there are suspicions that he helped the killers to execute their crime. Islamic groups in Tunisia accused French intelligence of being behind this incident.
Since the liberation of Tunisia from the French occupation in 1956, Tunisia has not witnessed any assassinations. The maximum punishment for the opposition, at that time, was to be imprisoned for many years.
The assassination of Belaid is considered as a new phenomenon in Tunisia, therefore the Tunisian people point an accusing finger to the leadership of Ennahda, party, which is, in fact, the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia. They are used to carrying out political assassinations and the history of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is evidence of this.
After the success of the revolution in Tunisia, there is no security and stability therein. The reason that the revolution, besides the dissemination of democracy and freedom, it also led to the emergence of groups, that have been either out of Tunisia, or in prisons. Among them are the Salafist groups, who have the same beliefs as the Muslim Brotherhood, "whoever is not with me is against me."
I hope that this crisis will be over soon and for Tunisia to be stable and secure as it was before.